Andrew Colabella is a lifelong Westporter. The 2007 Staples High School graduate worked for the town as a seasonal employee from 2004 to 2014.
Today he’s an RTM representative. Inspired by last night’s 62nd annual PAL fireworks, he writes:
This year’s fireworks were far better than last year’s.
Lasting 28 minutes, introducing shapes, emojis, the letters “USA” and a great big finale, Grucci — a 6th generation family with an expertise in pyrotechnics — gets an A+.
Westport PAL quickly shut down a couple of vendors selling toy machine guns. Other vendors sold toys that lit up, cool hats and other stuff. Most importantly they brought back Michelle Pauker to the national anthem. She gave us chills that lasted into the fireworks. Another A+.
Parks and Recreation, from guest services and clean-up crew to their supervisors opening the gate 30 minutes earlier than expected (causing little to no traffic), left patrons and visitors beyond ecstatic.
Parking was fantastic. With 200 passes left unsold, foot travelers were copious. Carmen Roda, Rick Giunta, Jen Fava and Ed Frawley were on the ball, making entry and exit smooth. Their enthusiastic, hardworking crew of employees worked nonstop all morning, afternoon and into the night, to help everyone enjoy the show. Guest Services also get an A+.
Police, fire, emergency services and mutual aid from other towns — including bomb-sniffing dog and officers patrolling on foot, bike and car — ensured that all was quiet. Another A+.
Compo Beach lifeguards, dressed in their finest reds, offered first aid. Injuries were simple and few. A dozen missing children were returned to their parents. One husband was reported missing by his wife. Jonathan was found. (Sorry Jonathan 😂) A+ again.
Joey’s by the Shore employees were on target with their meals and services. Cleanliness was stellar. I can still taste the food. 😋 A+!
Kids hung out behind the lifeguard shack and mingled, carrying out typical mischievous (and safe) behavior.
Unfortunately there was some confusion about patrons reserving tables and leaving them unoccupied (that’s a big no).
One other negataive: After the sand and dust settled and everyone left, the trash and litter left behind on the beach was greater than last year. There were more water bottles, beach chairs, plastic toys and vendors’ specials, food wrappers, tinfoil, Ziploc bags and other garbage than last year.
As I drove around last night, observing crews working into the night, house parties rocked the neighborhood. Young kids in love walked with people they just met, catching a glimpse of the red moon together on a bench, or leaving a party wandering into the darkness to find what may or may not become the next unplanned adventure — it all reminded me how this is my last 4th of July in my 20s.
I’m no longer young and able to enjoy these things I once did. Yet I find myself at the lifeguard shack every year, greeting old faces, familiar friends, new people, surrounded by lifeguards and guest services colleagues and first responders who I stand by so proudly.
It’s hard to face. I’m getting older, and I am not ready for it. But I’ve loved Westport since I was young enough to remember, and fall harder for this town every day.
Last night I got to see families and friends enjoy the fireworks as much as I do. And everyone got a kick out of my outfit, which I proudly wear every year.